Sunday, 15 October 2017

Cardiff to Bristol, last sail of the season

The tail end of Hurricane Ophelia is supposed to reach Britain on Monday, but the forecast for today showed SW force3-5, increasing SE later. With enough time to get safely to Bristol we left the pontoon at 08:00, and had a little motor round Cardiff Bay before locking out at 08:30, two hours before low water Cardiff.

With plenty of time to reach Bristol we decided to sail as much as we could. With the tide against us for the first two hours it was pretty slow going, but we knew that when the tide kicked in we would have at least an extra 2 knots, so did not worry. We broad reached across the estuary, since running is much harder work, and were treated to good views of Western-Super-Mare before we turned back north west.

The morning was overcast, and terrible for photography. We did a lot of sail changing, reefing down, then all sail up, then reefing down again. At one point we were doing 7 knots (with the tide), and dropped the main altogether so we would not be too early at the entrance to the River Avon. Once the tide really kicked in we were using just the stay sail to give us steerage way, while the tide just carried up along. Maybe we should have left Cardiff later....

The clouds thinned and sun appeared as we passed Portishead. We saw our first yacht of the day under sail here. He came close, and commented that he not not seen a boat towing a punt recently. Once again Worm attracted as much attention as Robinetta! The wind also dropped, and we needed the engine to give Robinetta steerage way, but we kept the revs very low.

We would see a big ship moving behind a bank near the river mouth. This being our first trip we were not really sure if it could be in the river (which did seem unlikely), or was inside a dock, so we called up VTS to check we would be clear to enter the river. “No Problem” came back the reply, so we headed until the Avon at 14:10. 
Crockerne Pill
There was plenty of water and a good tide under us, so we pottered up the river with the engine in tick-over. Once we were clear of the industrial entrance the Avon became delightful, with little inlets known as Pills, and wonderful Autumn colours in the woods. 

Three trip boats out of Bristol passed us, including the Matthew replica, on their way down river. We knew they would be locking back in to the floating harbour with us. The only other yacht we saw on the way up river was a large gaff cutter, Jan Roelan.
Under the Clifton Suspension Bridge

We reached the lock at 16:10, just as Jan Roelan finished tying up, and were called in immediately. There were two boat handlers waiting to throw us lines, which would then be used to pull our ropes up. Very civilised! When I commented the man taking my line replied that this was Sunday. Not sure if this means that on Sunday the lock is used by people who need more help, or not!
The lock was supposed to close at 16:25, but the Matthew did not arrive back until 16:30, then the other trip boats and some motor boats appeared. The lock stayed open until 16:45, as 2 other yachts had apparently booked places. They did not appear, and the lock gates closed. 
We rose about 2 metres to enter the floating harbour. Once the lock gates opened we had to wait for the bridge immediately beyond to swing before we could leave the lock, then wait another 10 minutes in the Cumberland Basin for the next bridge to swing. 
Matthew entering Bristol Lock
It was a little like waiting for the Dutch bridges, with a variety of different boats, with different ability to manoeuvre trying to avoid each other. Luckily there were not too many boats.
 Once past the Cumberland bridge we easily found the marina, and with the excellent and detailed instructions on finding the berth the marina staff had e-mailed to be we had no trouble finding our berth and tying up.
Robinetta's 2017 sailing season was over.

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